Fall Out Boy Sued for Over-Using Llama Puppets: 'The Llamas Took a Life of Their Own'

Pamela Littky
Fall Out Boy

The band was licensed to use the puppets in the "Young And Menace" music video, "but not beyond" that project, claims the puppets creator.

Remember the giant stuffed animal llamas that Fall Out Boy used in their 2017 video for "Young And Menace"? The furry creatures have landed the band in hot water, as they're now facing a lawsuit from the company who created the puppets.

In a 133-page complaint filed in a Manhattan court on March 15, Furry Puppet Studio Inc. claims that the company was hired by Rubrik House to create the puppets in 2017. Fall Out Boy was licensed to use the puppets in the "Young And Menace" music video, "but not beyond" that project.

The llamas have taken "a life of their own," the complaint reads, as Fall Out Boy has since used the puppets as branding for merchandise, brought the puppets onstage at concerts and television appearances and used the puppets to promote their Llamania EP released last February. "None of this was within the scope of the original limited implied license, and none of it was foreseeable to Platintiff," the complaint reads. 

The company is suing the band for copyright infringement, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and other counts.

"The widespread uses of the llamas puppets (which Rubrik had specified were being provided for a specific music video) are so far beyond the scope of the initial project that it would require omniscient clairvoyance from Plaintiff to anticipate that Defendants would, for example, make and sell derivative works as merchandise, use the puppets to brand the band, became the face of the tour, use in numerous other videos, create a musical album, and create a social media app," the complaint writes.

"At no point was Plaintiff ever told that the puppets would be consistently performing on stage, or for all 80 concerts on the tour -- and it certainly could not be inferred that they were being used for merchandise (t-shirts, key chains, stuffed animals), GIFs, television appearances, emojis, apps, and social media," it continues. "At no point did Plaintiff give permission for the puppets to be used/exploited in the widespread way they were."

The complaint also argues that Fall Out Boy is wrongly claiming to be the joint creator of the puppets.

"Despite the concept for the llama puppets being created and executed in 2015, Fall Out Boy dishonestly and absurdly claimed in a prelitigation exchange -- apparently unaware of the llamas’ origins -- that they were joint authors/creators of the llama puppets in 2017," the complaint reads. "This argument is not only impossible (barring time travel) but is utterly frivolous because Rubrik and/or Crush’s (not even Fall Out Boy) only contributions were to provide other artists’ monster concepts to Plaintiff for ideas. Not only were these ideas not used, but ideas are not even copyrightable expression which could give rise to joint authorship."

The complaint was submitted by Pennsylvania attorney Francis Malofiy, known for bringing a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin over the authorship of “Stairway to Heaven." It names 15 defendants aside from Fall Out Boy, including Universal Music Group, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment and the individual band members. Furry Puppet is seeking damages and to stop Fall Out Boy from using the llama puppets in their marketing material.

A representative for Fall Out Boy declined to comment.

Furry Puppet responded to Billboard's request for comment. Their full statement is below.

"Fall Out Boy abused the llama puppets and made millions of dollars off the unauthorized use.

Many people may not realize that even when a physical work of art is sold, ownership of the copyrights remain with the creator unless a written contract is signed. The band was only authorized to use the puppets in connection with the Young and Menace  music video. The band then, without credit or further compensation, used Furry Puppet Studio’s copyrights to create and sell merchandise, an album, an iPhone app, perform on tour, appear in other music videos, and become the face of the band. The llamas are a bona fide social media phenomenon with over half a billion views of GIFs created by Fall Out Boy.

In other words, the infringement was not just in marketing materials. The band infringed Furry Puppet Studio’s copyrights on a massive basis and deliberately cut them out of sharing in the credit and compensation."